Toning pilates exercises to get stronger in minutes

Finding time to exercise can be a challenge in our modern daily lives, but these toning Pilates exercises from Pilates instructor Nathalie Clough could be the answer.

“Think of all the times during the day when you scroll aimlessly through your phone, answer messages or catch up on your favourite TV series,” Nathalie says. “Used correctly, all this spare time can add up to a strong core, glutes and back.”

To help you on your way, Nathalie has compiled a collection of exercises that can be easily slotted into your day.

“Each of these exercises take your body through different ranges of movement to move your spine and help to build strength and posture,” she says.

“I’m not expecting them to be done back to back. Pick one to do each day of the week, or set yourself reminders to do one when the kettle boils in the morning, while you listen to the radio in bed, when catching up on emails or – the really obvious one – while watching TV.”

Regularly incorporate these pilates exercises into your daily routine and you’ll start noticing results in no time at all.

Toning Pilates exercises

The hundred

The Hundred pilates pose, liz earle wellbeing
The Hundred, asteriapilates.com
  • Benefits: Strengthens core
  • Duration: One kettle boil
  • Repetition: Every morning

How to do the hundred

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (knees over ankles).
  2. Curl your head, neck and shoulders off the mat, reaching your arms down by your sides.
  3. Lift your legs to 90° (so that your knees are in line with your hips and shins are parallel to the floor)
  4. Pump the arms up and down, inhaling for a count of five and exhaling for a count of five.

Be careful: If you feel your neck pulling, rest your head down or lift higher off the mat – keep your eyes on your belly.

The side bend

Side Bend pilates pose, liz earle wellbeing
Side Bend, asteriapilates.com
  • Benefits: Strengthening the core and back
  • Duration: Calling a friend (pop them on speakerphone!)
  • Repetition: Two to four times a week

How to do a side bend

  1. Lie on one side and place your forearm on the mat with your elbow directly under the shoulders.
  2. Keep the rest of your body (shoulder, hips and heels) in line and knees bent. Press your top arm strongly into your side
  3. Lift your hips and hold, keeping your hips still and shoulders stacked.
  4. Hold for three and lower slowly.
  5. Repeat five times and then do the same on the opposite side.

Be careful: Watch out for placing the elbow too far out and tension referring into the neck. Try to keep the hips level.

Strengthen your glutes

Glute Work pilates pose, Liz earle wellbeing
Glute Work, asteriapilates.com
  • Benefits: Strengthens gluteal (bum) muscles and keeps the hip stable
  • Duration: A TV ad break, one each side
  • Repetition: Two to five times a week

How to strengthen your glutes

  1. Lie on your side, aligning your head, shoulders and hips. Use your hand to support your head.
  2. Bend your knees to 90°.
  3. Lift your top leg parallel to the bottom one. Lift and lower your top leg without letting your legs touch.
  4. Repeat on the other side in the next ad break.

The next level: For an added burn, tap the top heel to the other one, then the knee to the other one.

Strengthen your rhomboids

Rhomboid work pose, liz earle wellbeing
Rhomboid Work, asteriapilates.com
  • Benefits: Strengthens the back and opens a hunched chest
  • Duration: One kettle boil
  • Repetition: Two to three times a week

How to strengthen your rhomboids

  1. Sit in a comfortable position (either in a chair, or on the floor) and bring your hands together just above your head, keeping your elbows wide.
  2. Keeping the elbows back, start to straighten the arms towards the ceiling.
  3. Bend the elbows once more back to starting position.
  4. Repeat.

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